Thirteen years after THE RESCUERS, Disney produced their FIRST ANIMATED SEQUEL ever. So you have THE RESCUERS franchise and its success to thank for LADY & THE TRAMP 2, THE LION KING 2, BAMBI II, CINDERELLA 2 and the other wretched Disney sequels.
But, to be sure: THE RESCUERS DOWN UNDER is anything but that. THE RESCUERS DOWN UNDER is just as wonderful and enchanting as the first one, returning our heroes from the Rescue Aid Society, Miss Bianca (Eva Gabor) and Bernard (Bob Newhart), but putting them in an exotic new locale: the Australian Outback!
I believe THE RESCUERS is a better film (drink to it!), through and through, though among my peers, DOWN UNDER is the overwhelming favorite (probably because it came out closer to our births). The original is certainly more disturbing and dark, with a scarier villain (to me) in Madame Medusa. But McLeach, voiced by friggin’ PATTON, George C. Scott, is no slouch in that department either, and more three dimensional. Here’s his villainous reel. DOWN UNDER is more fun, with more humor, and less scenes that make you want to slit your wrists. Plus, the animation is gorgeous, a big upgrade from the original.
This time, the kid that our luverly mice couple must rescue is Cody, a badass/stupid boy who roughs the Australian outback by himself. Instead of the million animals that can kill you in Oz, he befriends a majestic golden eagle named Marahute. Local poacher Percival C. McLeach bumps into Cody, discovering a golden eagle feather on his backpack. Naturally, he throws his backpack to a pack of crocodiles to trick the Rangers into thinking Cody is dead. Instead of that tragic fate, Cody’s merely kidnapped by a raving lunatic who wants to capture Marahute and reap the profits. Because eagle feathers can make a guy rich in 1990. Of course, when said eagle is about 15 times bigger than a human child, McLeach is likely onto something.
Soon enough, Bernard and Miss Bianca are on the case. This is what we want to see, of course, but Bernard’s miffed, because he’s trying to propose to our gurl. Cue bumbling hijinx and “almost” proposals. Instead, they must ride the Albatross express one more time, off to Australia, where they bump into the R.A.S.’ local representative and tour guide Jake (Tristan Rogers), a strapping hopping mouse with a sexy Aussie accent, creating a love triangle between mice. It also provides a chance for Australian caricature.
Instead of riding Orville, Bernard and Bianca hitch a ride on his brother Wilbur, who’s spinal column IS BENT OUT OF SHAPE, until accidentally fixing itself when escaping the mice medical staff. That’s lucky. Good on THE RESCUERS for winking at the Wright brothers with the name again. Plus, Wilbur is voiced by the unbelievable John Candy, and as you’d expect, is the best part of the movie.
Jim Jordan, who voiced Orville, died right after the first THE RESCUERS. John Candy died four years after DOWN UNDER. If they ever make a threequel, I would not volunteer to voice the Cooper Manning of the Wright Brothers. The role is clearly cursed, even if delightful, scene-stealing, and representative of everything wonderful about old-school animated films.
One must not forget McLeach’s sidekick Joanna the Goanna. What the hell is a goanna? It’s apparently a highly intelligent and very large monitor lizard, like a komodo dragon. When watching, I simply assumed Joanna was a komodo dragon who loved herself some eggs:
It’s been mandated that you must drink Australian beer for this game. Since that likely means Foster’s, Australian for Beer, I apologize. Plus: Aussies don’t drink Foster’s.
1. Drink for every different type of animal we encounter in the Australian outback.
2. Take a sip during any resplendent Marahute flight, who’s about as luxurious and as big as a Boeing 747.
3. Drink whenever a horse whispering technique is used to tame an animal.
4. Whenever Jake flirts with Miss Bianca, drink.
5. Toast for Bernard for each time he tries to propose to Miss Bianca, or broaches the subject.
6. Drink for every scene involving Malahute’s eggs.
7. Any albatross take-off sequence, you gots to drink, fool.
8. Take a sip for any scene that features one of Marahute’s golden feathers (detached from her body).
Expert Version: Drink for every Australian stereotype.